Monday, July 26, 2010


Make My Day – Hilarion Henares, Jr.

The Philippine Post – August I`8, 1999

Raul Manglapus was my schoolboy hero, the champion orator and composer of the Ateneo’s signature song, "Blue Eagle." `He was at the time Senator of the Republic, and aspiring candidate for the presidency of our land. I was at the time president of the Philippine Chamber of Industries, and soon to be appointed to the Cabinet of President Diosdado Macapagal as chairman of the National Economic Council and Presidential Administrator of Community Development (PACD).

Senator Raul Manglapus and I organized the "Fiestas for Progress" movement, of which I was president and he was chairman and moving spirit. Economist Augusto Cesar Espiritu, later Ambassador to West Germany was vice president. Jesus Tanchanco, soon to be NFA administrator, was treasurer; and Jorge Lorredo was PRO. Also Arturo "Bong" Tangco later to be Minister of Agriculture and indefatigable lover boy.

Mrs. J.B. widow of Col. Arsenio de Borja, who headed the movement in Pateros, sent me a pamphlet we issued for Fiestas for Progress, which set up pilot projects with four basic objectives:

To cut down on excessive expenditures on food and drink during the fiesta, to minimize games of chance and contests like dancing and beauty pageants, and give more importance to contests for the best pig, chicken, cow and the biggest vegetables grown, highest yielding land use, and other useful pursuits.

To use fund-raising activities like lotteries and cockfights, reserving part of the winning to accumulate capital for Credit Unions and Cooperatives.

To minimize borrowings for the fiesta celebration, minimize extravagant expenses caused by opening one’s doors indiscriminately to strangers, many of whom flit from one fiesta to another cadging free food and drinks. It is better to entice out-of-towners with special events like the floating flower festival. Hal Bira, and church festivities, and ask them to pay for their own food and shelter, as we ask foreigners who come to our shores.

To prove to the nation that investments, increased incomes, and economic progress are possible if there is cooperation and willingness to change.

The bottom line is that fiestas should bring more money into the town instead of out of the town; and such money should be used to create opportunities for economic advancement. Unfortunately, the word spread that we were abolishing the fiesta, and we became the objects of jokes and were laughed at behind our backs.

The Pateros experiment showed that the people served less food and drinks in their homes during fiesta, holding family reunions without going into debt. Money came into Pateros as visitors patronized stores and vendors, and the people were able to set up with their savings one of the biggest credit unions in the country, through which they sent their children to school, revived their faltering industries and setup new ones, and freed themselves from the clutches of loan sharks.

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